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Football: An opportunity in Fargo

Staff Writer

Published: Friday, December 20, 2013

Updated: Friday, December 20, 2013 12:12

No UNH football team has ever sniffed a chance to play for the FCS championship.

To get to that game in Frisco, Texas, on Jan. 4 of the New Year, they need to beat No. 1 North Dakota State University, a team that’s been undefeated for two straight seasons, and that has won two straight FCS Championships. Since the beginning of the 2011 season, they are 40-2. Their current winning streak of 22 games is the second best in FCS history.

“If we win this week, now you’re saying something,” UNH football head coach Sean McDonnell said in his press conference Wednesday. “This is the best team in the land. This is [thew] number one team in the country two years running.”

Though they are well coached by 2012 FCS coach of the year Craig Bohl, who is leaving the program after his 11th season at North Dakota State, the Bison aren’t intimidating because of their schemes. It’s the intensity with which they’ve steamrolled opponents for the last two years that shocks opponents.

McDonnell saw this in his hotel room last Saturday when he watched North Dakota State beat Coastal Carolina University 48-14 in the quarterfinal game that sent them to their third straight NCAA semifinal. He saw each North Dakota State unit dominate their side of the ball. The offense totaled 623 yards and possessed the ball for 39:45. The defense held Coastal Carolina to just 96 rushing yards and 185 passing, and they only allowed the Chanticleers to convert on one of nine third downs. On special teams, the Bison limited their opponent to just five total yards on punt returns.

North Dakota State took their stranglehold early in the game. At halftime, they led 34-7.

“This was something to behold, man,” McDonnell said. “I was in the hotel room in Louisiana going, ‘Oh, my,’ and, again, what did I notice about it? How everybody on that team was playing downhill. How their pad levels were on a forward lean. It wasn’t the X’s and O’s. It was the Jimmy’s and the Joe’s that were pretty impressive.”

With how quickly the Bison took control of their game last week, UNH quarterback Sean Goldrich said he is aware that the Wildcats must punch the Bison hard and early in order to keep pace.

“We have to put up points fast. We have to come out of the gate flying around, and we have to make a statement and let them know that we’re not going to be a run over team,” Goldrich said Wednesday.

Goldrich and the UNH offense fared well last week against No. 4 Southland conference champion Southeastern Louisiana University. At Strawberry Stadium last Saturday, the Wildcats totaled 479 yards on offense. Goldrich threw for 276 yards and ran for 99, including the two yard game winning touchdown that made the final score of 20-17.

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